TOP Update of DP1 Review

24 05 2008

Edward Taylor has posted an update to his review of the DP1 that he published on The Online Photographer (TOP) back in April. Now that he’s had more time to work with the camera, he feels he should clarify a few things. The bottom line is that he still feels it is fundamentally flawed in terms of speed and usability, but he says he would buy the camera again because of the outstanding image quality.

As Taylor correctly points out, it is not a “Decisive Moment Digital” nor even, really, a “point and shoot.” It is a departure from the norm, a particular and peculiar camera that the photographer must adapt to. Not unlike a Holga, in fact; both are odd cameras that require a different way of thinking. As Taylor says: “you don’t always need speed. I adapted to its slowness.”

Those who were hoping for an all-purpose camera, or some kind of super camera that would perform miracles will be disappointed. But those who are willing to see it for what it is, and can adapt to its quirks, will be blown away by the image quality.

Speaking of Holgas, I’ve been playing around with one recently. I ran two rolls of 120 through it (the first film I’ve shot in eight years), and I managed to get five or six pretty good “Holgaesque” images, including this one:

Dreamworld Mini

If you’re a pixel peeper you won’t have much to say about that. Ditto if you’re the type who insists on conventional framing and composition. It’s got none of that, but I really like it regardless. In fact, this is the antithesis of the image quality one should expect from a DP1, and I guarantee you the Holga is twenty times slower than the DP1. Yet there it is, and I like it.

And people who like their DP1s really like them too.

By the way, DPReview has published a thorough review of the DP1. Their conclusions are pretty much the same as everyone else’s but with a lot of detailed information to back them up. This is not headline news at MyDP1, because if you’ve been following the DP1 story then you already know about that review. After all, a review from DPReview is pretty much the one to watch for.

DP1 Reviewed at TOP (The Online Photographer)

10 04 2008

The Online Photographer has posted a long and impressive review of the DP1 (Sigma DP1: The Future Meets the Past), written by Edward Taylor. The gist of it is that Taylor really likes the camera, but laments that it’s a step backwards with regards to a few usability issues; namely, its slowness. He also describes the auto-exposure as “hit or miss,” and comments on the lack of image stabilization, macro, auto flash, and built-in optical viewfinder.

On the other hand, to no one’s surprise, he has really good things to say about IQ (image quality):

Can this little camera actually produce an image that is comparable to a DSLR? The answer is YES. I have never used a P&S camera that has produced images as “DSLR like” as this camera’s. I think the images compare well to images from your average consumer-grade DSLR. (Those cameras produce great images). It would be unfair to compare the DP1 to a Canon 1DsMKIII or a Nikon D3.

He further describes the images from the Foveon sensor as “smooth and luxurious.”

Personally, I am really turned off by the problems with speed. I really need for my camera to respond when I want it to respond. I do not want to go back to 2002, where focus lag, shutter lag, and all those other lags made me miss shot after shot because the camera was fiddling with itself while the scene in front of it dissipated. As Taylor says:

…let me make it clear that the DP1 is not and never could be what is referred to on TOP as a DMD (Decisive Moment Camera). Why? Because it is slow.

On the other hand, just when I’m ready to give up on the DP1, I read this, farther down in the review:

In my opinion, despite all the limitations, the Sigma DP1 can produce the best images of any small, light weight P&S camera that I have ever seen or used—and not by a small margin. Even at ISO 800, it produces results that are unimaginable with other P&S cameras at any ISO.

Still, I need to remember what my priorities are. Yes, I want the best possible image quality. But I demand responsiveness. I will not stand for a sluggish camera.

Unfortunately, these speed problems are probably beyond what can be fixed with firmware. That leaves me wondering if the DP1 and I have much of a future together.

Update: After I wrote this post I went for a walk with my Lumix DMC-LX2. I set it on manual focus and wide angle (28mm-e), and did some “from the hip” shots as I walked. I never know what I’m going to get when I do this, and most of the time it’s not great. But when I saw this guy looking up in the air as he spoke on his mobile, I just turned the camera and clicked. I think it’s a pretty cool shot. But would I have got it with the DP1? (Andrew, in the comments, thinks “yes.”)

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